Iran calls BRICS membership 'strategic victory' amid tensions with US

Iran calls BRICS membership 'strategic victory' amid tensions with US

'In a historic move, the Islamic Republic of Iran becomes a permanent member of BRICS. A strategic victory for Iran's foreign policy,' says Iran's supreme leader office

By Syed Zafar Mehdi

TEHRAN, Iran (AA) – Iran has described its permanent membership in BRICS as a "strategic victory" after South Africa's president announced on Thursday the induction of six new members.

Mohammad Jamshidi, the deputy chief of staff for political affairs to Iran's president, took to social media to announce Iran's permanent membership of the bloc.

"In a historic move, the Islamic Republic of Iran becomes a permanent member of BRICS. A strategic victory for Iran's foreign policy," Jamshidi wrote, congratulating Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the people of the country.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the host of this year's BRICS summit, on Thursday, announced that the bloc has invited Argentina, Egypt, Iran, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates to become new members.

The expansion of the five-member group of emerging economies has featured prominently on the agenda of this year's summit in Johannesburg, with five existing members on Wednesday giving their nod.

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, one of the world leaders invited for the 15th BRICS summit, arrived in Johannesburg early on Thursday.

Before boarding the flight to South Africa, Raisi described BRICS as a "new emerging power in the world" that brings together "independent countries."

He also expressed Iran's readiness to bolster cooperation with BRICS member states.

Iran's membership of the BRICS came amid escalating tensions between Tehran and Washington amid a stalemate over the 2015 nuclear deal, as well as tense encounters between the two sides in the Persian Gulf.

Experts see BRICS as a viable counterweight to the G-7, a powerful US-led political forum that also includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the UK.

BRICS is an influential geopolitical bloc with five member states – Russia, China, Brazil, India, and South Africa – which account for 42% of the world population and are expected to contribute over 50% of global GDP by 2030.

Iran applied for full membership in the bloc in June last year, just days after President Raisi was invited to virtually address the BRICS Plus summit.

In his speech, Raisi expressed his country’s willingness to share its “vast capabilities and potentials” to help the bloc attain its goals while pointing out challenges such as “conflicting global trends, unilateralism, nationalistic partialities, sanctions, and coercive economic action.”

Later, Iran's Foreign Ministry said it hoped that the country's full membership of the bloc "will add value to it" and also informed of consultations in this regard between Iran and BRICS’ five permanent members.

Earlier this month, Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said at a conference in Tehran titled “Iran and BRICS: Prospects and Partnership Cooperation” that his country is a "reliable and influential" partner of the bloc.

"Iran is a reliable and influential partner in bilateral and multilateral cooperation due to its strategic and unique geographical location, large energy reserves, especially oil and gas, cheap and short transportation and transit network, young and expert manpower, and modern scientific and technological achievements," he said, as quoted by the Foreign Ministry.

Iran's experience with US sanctions, according to observers, also makes it an important member of the bloc as it looks to ditch the US dollar for local currencies.

The bloc has floated the idea of the New Development Bank as a rival to the International Monetary Fund which currently dominates the global finance system.

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